2013 in news: alternative mobile operating systems

In 2013, Android settled into its place as the absolute ruler of the world’s mobile operating systems. Apple maintained the pace with iOS, especially in the US, but rest of the market was the setting for an interesting battle for survival.

The strongest competitor was undoubtedly Windows Phone. The Microsoft operating system took a solid 3rd place with a little over 4% of the market. Although it didn’t launch any major new features in 2013 (just three small updates), it made strong a presence in Europe, where it reached nearly 10% of the market.

Apps and Nokia rescue Windows Phone

Windows Phone’s trump card in 2013 was undoubtedly the arrival of the apps that users wanted most: Instagram, Vine, Waze, and Papyrus. These and other apps have begun to make WP a mobile ecosystem that has a real chance of competing with major players. Thanks are due almost exclusively to Nokia, most of which was bought by Microsoft. Both HTC and Huawei, on the other hand, have pulled back from Windows Phone development.

Instagram on Windows Phone

BlackBerry’s twilight years

BlackBerry

On the other side of the coin lies Blackberry 10, once slated to be the 3rd most popular mobile operating system, but has actually sunk spectacularly. Blackberry’s complete makeover, complete with Alicia Keys, couldn’t even begin to stem the bleeding – Balckberry 10 was ignored by users and developers alike. Perhaps the success of Blackberry Messenger, a multiplatform app, will serve as consolation to the Canadian firm. The launch of BBM for iPhone and Android, and the company’s business solutions are now their last hope.

Firefox OS, the mobile for all

Mozilla’s Firefox OS has jumped into a very different battle. With the support of Spanish firm Telefónica, Firefox OS wants to be a middle of the range operating system capable of attracting users in emerging countries. Its biggest challenge is ensuring developers of popular apps make versions for the OS, but it’s not going to be an easy task. Even though Mozilla has promised WhatsApp, for example, WhatsApp are denying all knowledge.

FireFox OS

The Nokia leftovers: Sailfish is in, Symbian is out

While some are just arriving, others have already left. Symbian bid the ultimate farewell after Nokia decided to focus its efforts on developing Windows Phone devices. The Finnish company confirmed it would be abandoning Symbian, leaving us with a bad taste in our mouths – a system we thought had life in it yet is vanishing for good.

Symbian

From another Nokia leftover, Meego, Sailfish OS is born. The future of this alternative operating system will be decided in 2014. This year, we saw the company taking at least one intelligent decision – it will be able to run Android applications, meaning it will be born in to a solid app ecosystem and you’ll be able to install it over Android.

CyanogenMod against the giant

CyanogenMod can also be easily installed over Android, but Google doesn’t seem so happy about it. While Cyanogen announced an agreement with Oppo to offer Cyanogen  Mod as a default install on the Oppo N1, Google removed Cyanogen Mod Installer from Google Play because it violated the terms for developers allowing users to “void their warrenty.”

The Ubuntu mystery

Last, but not least, Ubuntu Phone ended the year as it began, as the great unknown. Canonical led a campaign to develop a phone, but in reality it was just some free publicity. The system received an update or two during 2013, but apart from a  few small changes, it’s exactly the same one we saw during the 2013 Mobile World Congress.

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